Thieves steal from disabled sailors in San Francisco

A sailor from the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors.

May 28, 2013 8:19:34 PM PDT
The Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors is stuck on the dock after a bizarre theft severely impacted their fleet of boats on Pier 40 in San Francisco.

Charles Cunningham removed a Boston Whaler from the San Francisco Bay after thieves damaged it by cutting the fuel lines to steal the outboard motor.

"I have no idea what the goal or what was in the mind of the person that took them," he said.

The group takes those with mobility issues and assists them by having them operate a boat on their own.

"I love sailing. My father said I was a fish," said Pam Prentice.

Prentice says she was born to sail. The boat she uses is specially rigged and equipped with adaptive features which make operating the sails and rudder, without the use of hands, possible.

"So what BAADS has done, is really help me learn balance; how to navigate on a water surface," she said.

"We're pretty, pretty shut down. Pretty, pretty much shut down. We cannot allow these people to sail if we can't support a mishap, a rescue," said Cunningham.

Each of the sailors is followed by a boat so that if one of them gets in trouble help is seconds away.

But now, the entire operation may be landlocked because the theft of the motors and the damage done to the boats will cost the non-profit thousands of dollars to repair and replace.

In all, five motors were taken in an overnight theft that has produced few clues and waves of frustration.

"We want to operate. We don't want to let this stop us from doing that," said Cunningham.

BAADS relies on volunteers and donations. The non-profit has more than 200 members and is hoping that enough of them come through to help get them back on the water by this weekend.

Out of the dozens of boats docked on Pier 40, the only motors stolen were the ones that belonged to BAADS.

To contact BAADS go to:

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